Natural Hot Springs, Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
In 1921, by act of Congress, the site of Hot Springs's name was changed from the Hot Springs Reservation to the Hot Springs National Park. Growing to over 900 acres (3.6 km2), it included Hot Springs Mountain, North Mountain, West Mountain, Sugar-Loaf Mountain and Whittington Lake Park. It later was expanded to 5,000 acres (20 km2).
The springs are all grouped about the base of the Hot Springs Mountain, with a flow well over a half million gallons a day. The hot water is supplied to the various bathhouses with resulting income going to the U.S. Treasury. There are miles of roads and trails over the mountains. The park is open throughout the year.
The first bathhouses were really little more than brush huts and log cabins placed over excavations cut in the rocks to receive hot water that flowed from the springs. More elaborate bathing facilities soon developed, with wooden troughs delivering water from hillside springs to bathhouses along the east bank of Hot Springs Creek. Some of the tufa covering the hillside was excavated to accommodate the bathhouses. The narrow street along the west side of the creek was connected to the bathhouses by narrow bridges.
After direct federal supervision was exercised in 1877, major improvements were made. The creek was covered with stone arches, and above a street a hundred feet wide was built. All the squatters were evicted, rubbish cleaned, and a centralized plumbing system was begun. This was completed around 1890. In 1950 central cooling towers limited the maximum temperature to a safe level, so individual bathhouses no longer needed their own cooling systems.
The park operates a public campground at Gulpha Gorge, about two miles (3 km) from downtown Hot Springs.
View from Scenic Mountain Drive up Hot Springs Mountain in Hot Springs National Park, Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Hot Springs is the 10th most populous city in the U.S. state of Arkansas, the county seat of Garland County, and the principal city of the Hot Springs Metropolitan Statistical Area encompassing all of Garland County. According to 2008 Census Bureau estimates, the population of the city was 39,467.
Hot Springs is traditionally best known for the natural spring water that gives it its name, flowing out of the ground at a temperature of 147 degrees Fahrenheit (64 degrees C). Hot Springs National Park is the oldest federal reserve in the USA, and the tourist trade brought by the famous springs make it a very successful spa town.
The city takes its name from the natural thermal water that flows from 47 springs on the western slope of Hot Springs Mountain in the historic downtown district of the city. About a million gallons of 143-degree water flow from the springs each day. The rate of flow is not affected by fluctuations in the rainfall in the area. Studies by National Park Service scientists have determined through carbon dating that the water that reaches the surface in Hot Springs fell as rainfall in an as-yet undetermined watershed 4,000 years earlier. The water percolates very slowly down through the earth’s surface until it reaches superheated areas deep in the crust and then rushes rapidly to the surface to emerge from the 47 hot springs.
A small channel of hot spring water known as Hot Springs Creek runs under ground from an area near Park Avenue to Bath House Row.